White House Author
Steve Birnbaum (FEMA Innovation Team)
Steven Birnbaum strongly believes that resilient communications can help people to help themselves. As Chair of the Global VSAT Forum’s Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Programs, and an inaugural member of the FEMA Innovation Team, he deployed with the Team into the areas most devastated by Superstorm Sandy. Dedicated to FEMA’s Whole of Community approach to disaster response, where robust communication networks catalyze optimal response and recovery, he immediately put this principle into practice. On the ground, Steve and the Team rallied local community leaders, NGOs, government, volunteers and commercial technology providers to deploy temporary disaster networks in the Rockaways, Redhook, and Staten Island. This just-in-time telecommunications then empowered communities to coordinate their own volunteers, aid, and donations. Their accomplishments soon facilitated the spawning of new, grass-roots community outreach initiatives, such as a cadre of FEMA Corps volunteers who went door-to-door with newly-networked tablet computers to register survivors for assistance at their doorstep. When not responding to disasters, Steve works as an independent consultant and serves as a volunteer firefighter/urban search & rescue tech in Rockville, Maryland.